Friday, February 26, 2016

#10: The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga

Three knockabout friends in Cape Town hang out, use drugs, and also sell them--primarily HIV drugs--in Masande Ntshanga's episodic novel The Reactive.

This slice-of-life novel, set in South Africa, tries to frame its story around a mysterious masked man who wants to buy a large quantity of drugs from the trio; but the novel is more rewarding when it peers into the thoughts of the characters, and their lives on the fringe of a ramshackle neighborhood.  How each of the friends became adrift, sniffing glue and dreaming, is really the core of the book.

I liked Ntshanga's writing, especially his characterization, and found this to be an interesting, change-of-pace slice of literary fiction.

This was sent to me by Two Dollar Radio and I read it quickly.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

#9: MemoRandom by Anders de la Motte

A cop has a stroke and gets in a serious car accident, awakening to find he is in hot water for forgetting the identity of a confidential informant called Janus; meanwhile, a young Iraqi man blames his brother's death during a police shoot-out on an underworld figure also called Janus. 

Naturally, these two men's paths collide, with explosive results, in MemoRandom by Anders de la Motte.

MemoRandom is an electrifying, cinematic thriller brimming with action and alarming twists and turns.  It is a straight American-style beach read with an overlay of Scandinavian winter and the brooding characters it produces.

I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller novel and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre.  If you also enjoy Scandinavian thrillers, it's an added bonus.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond Indiana and read it briskly.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

#8: The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

A crusading journalist at a failing magazine lucks into a hot story involving the murder of a computer genius; at the same time, a famous hacker (and his sometimes lover) decides to get involved in the mystery as well in The Girl in the Spider's Web, a continuation of the Millennium Series.

The series, which began with Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, seemed to open the floodgates for interest in Scandinavian mysteries and crime stories.  Unfortunately Larsson died abruptly after completing only three novels, and in his wake was quite a bit of controversy about writing he left behind as well as his estate in general.

I decided I would read Lagercrantz's novel on its own merits, outside of the controversy.  I actually found this to be a largely seamless transition to a new author, capturing Larsson's knack for earthy storytelling and larger-than-life villains. 

Blomkvist and Salander have a more cerebral adventure this time out, dealing quite a bit with Artificial Intelligence and Autism and political maneuverings, peppered with action.  Lagercrantz definitely left elbow room for another book, if this one goes over well, and I hope it does.

I listened to a very good audiobook version of this novel on loan from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Monday, February 15, 2016

#7: The Night of the Panthers by Piergiorgio Pulixi

A band of cops called The Panthers rule a city nicknamed "The Jungle" with their own tarnished code of ethics; but when an especially murderous criminal kingpin is on the rise, they pull out all the stops in Piergiorgio Pulixi's The Night of the Panthers.

This very tough crime novel in the World Noir line is as amoral a thriller as I've read, as the cops try to out-bad the worst of the worst. The novel moves at a lightning pace, and has looks into Italian life, but a constant barrage of murder, rape, and torture make it not for all audiences.

About as bleak a crime story as you'll find, but Pulixi's colorful characters and breakneck storytelling is of interest.

I was sent this by World Noir, a part of Europa Editions, and have enjoyed all of their offerings thus far.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#6: Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias

Fernando is a low-level drug dealer in Austin who crosses paths with high-level baddies from another realm in Gabino Iglesias' Zero Saints.

Zero Saints is a tightly-wound street-view story of revenge, if that story was penned by H.P. Lovecraft.  This genre-bender finds our edgy narrator getting knocked on the head and waking up to a murderous scene with a whiff of the otherworldly.  Naturally, as much as he would like to snake away he keeps getting drawn back into the path of a gang who might have made an unholy pact or two on their rise through the mean back alleys of Texas.

Meanwhile, our tarnished hero makes a few deals of his own, including befriending a pack of unnaturally intelligent dogs and grabbing a handful of holy bullets.

Though marred a touch by an abrupt ending, this is a crackling read, with some unsettling undertones, and long stretches of Spanish, Spanglish, and English.  Worthwhile for those interested in both horror and noir genres.

I bought this one for my beloved Kindle and read it quickly.  I will definitely look for more from Iglesias.